Belle The Lioness (Soldier Of Fortune) Wins Her Maiden Hurdle At Thurles

Cheltenham Next For Talented Soldier Of Fortune Mare

Black-type performer Belle The Lioness (6m Soldier Of Fortune - Belle Of The Moor, by King’s Theatre) will head straight to Cheltenham after gaining a deserved win over hurdles at Thurles.

A clear bumper winner on her first start for Henry de Bromhead last season, the Soldier Of Fortune mare finished second to a well-regarded type on her hurdle bow and was last seen chasing home Liberty Dance (Soldier Of Fortune) in a Listed contest.

She was sent off favourite to go one better in Sunday’s maiden hurdle, where Rachael Blackmore rode her to make virtually all of the running. A loose horse proved problematic at stages, but the favourite dug deep when asked on the run-in and prevailed by half a length on the line. Fellow black-type performer Mollys Glory (Fame And Glory) and Arthor (Flemensfirth) completed a 1-2-3 for Coolmore NH sires, with the trio finishing well clear of the field.

Speaking after the race, the winning trainer said, “I'm delighted she won and she had to tough it out in the end. We've had a lot of fun with her and she hasn't been out of the first two for us.”

Looking forward, De Bromhead added, “On her previous run, we are going to aim for the mares' novice hurdle at Cheltenham - we're entitled to go and take our chance. She has done plenty already, has her black-type and will go straight there.”

Belle The Lioness joined De Bromhead after finishing third in a four-year-old mares’ maiden at Boulta for Donal Barry and is now owned by Ms Michelle Doyle and Sean Barton. She is the first foal bred by Mrs Vera Deegan out of Belle Of The Moor, who has four and five-year-old fillies by Flemensfirth, as well as a Soldier Of Fortune two-year-old and Crystal Ocean yearling.